Imphal, Dec. 24: The Special Police Officers (SPOs) have set Tuesday as the deadline for the Okram Ibobi Singh government to announce a concrete future plan for them.
They were recruited for protection of villagers in Heirok in Thoubal district of Manipur against militant attacks. The training of the SPOs began in July.
“We will intensify our agitation if the government fails to announce a plan for our future by December 30,” Elangbam Bigyananda Singh, a spokesman for the SPOs, told journalists here this afternoon.
On Saturday, the SPOs refused to attend the training courses at the Manipur Police Training School at Pangei in Imphal East district after the day’s morning drill. They spent the day holding a sit-in at the training ground.
Since Sunday, they have confined themselves to their barracks in protest against what they termed as an “uncertain future”.
The SPOs want the government to announce a date for completion of their training programme.
They also demanded that the government announce a date for return to their village and also the day from when they can start functioning as members of a village protection force.
“Initially we were told that the training was for one month. Then it was extended for three months. Now it has been six months, but the government has not told us when the training will be over. We have undergone training for handling all kinds of weapons,” Bigyananda Singh said.
The government had also failed to provide them uniforms, the SPOs alleged.
At present nearly 250 SPOs are in the barracks and the rest have gone home on “unauthorised” leave.
A sum of Rs 100 is cut from each one’s remuneration for a day’s absence. Though the SPOs have not yet decided their course of action, they indicated that initially they would hold rallies to highlight their grievances. If the government fails to respond, they may walk out of the training school for good.
“We have repeatedly requested the chief minister and other senior police officers. But the government is keeping mum on our future,” Bigyananda Singh said.
Official sources said the plan for construction of barracks for the SPOs was delayed after the United National Liberation Front and the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup threatened villagers of Heirok for having accepted the SPOs.
Following the militant threat, residents of Heirok raised the demand for converting the SPO into a state force. “The government has not taken any decision on the SPOs,” sources said.